Koko Crater Railway Trailhead O’ahu — Things to Know

The Koko Crater hike is along a steep abandoned railroad track on Koko Crater about 30 minutes east of Waikiki. Unlike Diamond Head Crater Hike, Koko Crater is a serious workout, not a leisurely stroll. You will sweat. You will likely huff and puff to catch your breath. Even more importantly, you will be blown away by what awaits at the top.

Koko Pano
Koko Crater Summit

Is it difficult?

This trail is exhausting to complete and will require solid stamina and leg strength. However, it is a seemingly never-ending, uneven staircase, therefore it isn’t difficult it hiking terms. I would rate this trail as intermediate. It’s a tough workout but there is no scaling or rock climbing involved which is why I would not consider this to be an advanced hike. 

 

How long does it take?

I would budget 2.5 – 3 hours total for the entire trail. The view is so beautiful at the top, you’re not going to want to rush back down to the bottom for a while.

Koko 8
About 90% of the way to the top

Do you need any special hiking equipment?

Hiking boots aren’t necessary, however, the wood and rocks are slippery! Make sure you wear sneakers with a solid grip on the bottom. Sandals and flip flops are NOT recommended!!! Walking sticks aren’t necessary but feel free to bring along what makes you comfortable.

Is it free?

Yes! The hike is free! There is also a large parking lot which has free parking.

What time is the trail open?

The trail opens at 4 am and closes at 11 pm.

Other recommendations and things to note:

I don’t recommend beginning your hike at the peak of the day when the sun is at its highest. I started my hike in the morning before 8 am in an effort to beat the crowds and the heat. It was STEAMY the entire hike, especially at the top. Make sure you wear tons of sunscreen because there is no shade on the trail.

Bring water! I left my water in the car because I didn’t feel like carrying it the entire time, but that was a huge mistake. The hike took longer than expected for me to complete so I was parched by the time I got back to the car.

There is one section of the hike that has wooden slabs over a huge pit. If you were to miss a step, your foot could potentially fall through the gap causing you to straddle the wooden slabs. This is the most daunting part of the hike. The good thing is, there is a side path off to the right (on the way up) that allows you to safely bypass this section. I chose this path. You can also use this alternative route on the way down.

The trail is extremely steep and a bit intimidating at first due to how vertical the climb is. Although exhausting, the view was even more beautiful than I expected. Every bead of sweat was worth the 1,048 steps to the top!

The views from the Koko Crater peak are some of the best, if not the best on the island! I highly recommend prioritizing this hike on your next trip to O’ahu!

 

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